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5 Ways to Fail Forward as an Entrepreneur

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The Struggle

Every entrepreneur is guilty of experiencing a time at some point when you think you’ve hit rock bottom. Getting to the top is a process which involves many obvious setbacks. But while most people run away from failure due to the fact it could mean the end, I suggest all entrepreneurs embrace it with open arms, learn from it and move on. Hence, the silent truth here is: Failing is just a stepping stone to success.

If entrepreneurs really want to get to the top, they have to fail their way to it. Now is the best time to fail in something so you get it right tomorrow. You must grow where you are planted and spread without fear of failure for growth is a mystery that naturally takes place in your life which you cannot help.

For every entrepreneur to have a successful failure, you should take note of these ways you can fail forward:

1. Hold nothing back

Whether you are working on a new project, trying out a new recipe or getting into a new relationship; learn to go all the way. Give it your all. Allow yourself the privilege to enjoy the ride as it goes on. After all, what is the worst that could happen? To your delight, that fear of failure you thought may occur could be your unbelievable launch to a massive success.

Think of one great person who has never failed. I can assure you there are none. The difference here is they don’t see it as failure but as a pathway to lessons learnt. The current situation you may regard as failure only makes you better at the next.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

2. Don’t think too much about the challenges

Challenges are like bridges created in front of every entrepreneur to stop him from taking part in the event going on on the other side of success. The more you wallow in pain on the sad consequences of your action going wrong, you fear taking a step forward. Do whatever you wish by not holding on to the negative result of failing. Concerned on what your neighbor may think about you? You should know their thoughts don’t matter. Live your life without excuses like a King or Queen who owes nobody on earth and enjoy the benefits.

3. Be ready to change courses and move on

We have all had that moment when a hearty joyous relationship suddenly turns sour. Be it from a business partner or fellow church member. Don’t hang on to mend anything. There are something’s which may occur that if you try to mend, gracefully waste your time. Let it go! Don’t see yourself as a failure because this particular relationship or method of getting something done did not work out.

If it doesn’t match up with what you want, never forget you always have a choice either to continue or let it go. Entrepreneurs must understand that there are several ways success can be achieved. If your first approach doesn’t work, bear in mind that you are just taking a more pleasant approach to achieve the same goal.

4. Appreciate everyday

We do not know the value of what we have until we lose it. You only know and appreciate the value of money after being broke for a while. Until your business revenue crashes, you don’t see the magnitude of what you have at hand. Until the negative somehow find its way to you, you may never appreciate the positive.

Until you become broke for a while, you never appreciate the value of money. Now until you have failed, you almost never appreciate what you already have. The sooner the failure comes, the sooner you appreciate your blessing in disguise. We as humans are naturally wired that way.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

5. Realize how strong you are

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Keep striving in the ugly face of adversity. Reduce the number of friends you have because not everyone in your circle is a friend. Know the real ones. Be prepared to do many things alone. Against all odds, you need to be the best you can possibly be. Someday, all of your efforts will be crowned with success. There is plenty of room at the top. Don’t stop failing your way to it.

What are some things you have learned from failing as an entrepreneur?  Leave your thoughts below!

Evelyn Uche is an entrepreneur and a serial writer with a strong passion for start-ups. She is the editor and founder of the business blog known as ThisIsBusiness247 where she publishes daily articles on business news & events. You can follow her blog on Twitter to get her latest updates.

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Entrepreneurs

Are Addicts and Entrepreneurs Synonymous? The Answer Might Surprise You

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Have you ever thought about what the term addict means in relation to entrepreneurship? When we examine that word, many of us think about a person addicted to a substance, unable to function. But addiction can have different meanings—it seems—in a society that speaks out of both sides of its mouth. Yes, it may denote a functional drug addict, for example. However, it can also describe a person who is vigorously driven to succeed against all odds and at any cost.

Are addicts and entrepreneurs synonymous?

In the case of choosing entrepreneurship, is being an addict necessary? Can you succeed without the manic mindset that yanks your hand and pulls you down the road of progress? Maybe you’ll have a different opinion, but I don’t think so! Ask yourself: What would your life be like without the fire for wanting more…no matter what “more” happens to be? I know my business would not be where it is as a marketer or the founder of a non-profit, without insatiable passion.

I HAD to be addicted to surrender to the mad urges to stay up late/early. To create websites and emails and articles and banners and a podcast and to network and collaborate and write millions of words. I’ve edited roughly 50 books by myself in the past couple of years as well as published most of them.

I’ve asked, bartered, been coached, have coached, purchased technology, applications, storage, high-speed everything, authored a book, hosted columns and learned to fly as I am whisked through the airport in a wheelchair. (A fact that shouldn’t be laudatory, but it is!) The more milestones I pass, the longer the distance I want to run.

“There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that once unleashed can make any vision, dream or desire a reality.” – Tony Robbins

Where would you be without your drive?

When you let your mind roam down the passageways of memory and into the pockets of time where you have been the most productive, obsessed, on the cusp of achievement, could you have done it with a meh attitude?

What is it inside us that is more powerful than hunger and defies explanation for even the most aggressive entrepreneur? Are we born this way or are we preened and primed by our environment? By lack? By affluence? By self-challenge or the need to shed self-doubt? And do we even need to understand what drives us? Or are we called simply to answer the restless ache to make something new, to leave a legacy that others can follow and improve upon?

Where were you when the epiphany of your life’s calling hit? I was paying bills. For so long, I had been operating from a necessity mindset. Planning what was needed to pay for our monthly debts. Separating myself from six-figure copywriters because I hadn’t yet identified my “why not.” And then like a streak into my brain, within mere minutes, I understood.

My realization wasn’t “what do I need to do to succeed?” It was and is “what can I do?” “How much can I do?” It was comprehending, at last, that I was in charge of my limited or limitless aim. I could build an empire. I could scale a company.

My past, sickness, and perceptions of my shortcomings couldn’t compete with the sparkling illumination that I was in charge of me and everything I ever wanted. Of everything I had ever dreamed of when I saw my father fail at serial entrepreneurship. I could beat all the bad memories and all the toxic mojo holding my dreams hostage. I did and I am.

Where do you fall prey to raw spontaneity?

I hate flying. Sometimes, I don’t understand this fear that charges at me when the wheels fold up. But I do it anyway. Every time I’m in the air, I tell myself this is the last time I will travel by plane and when I land, all is right with the world. But then justification and compulsion get me to the next trip. And the next. And the one after that. I can’t wait to hit the air as I simultaneously loathe the engines roaring and rattling my psyche.

This is the same fierce streak that led me to a take-no-prisoners attitude when I lost my job due to a rare neurological disease and had to start over…again. Which was the best thing that ever happened to me. If you have the ability to focus and tear up your goals like the tarmac under a jet, it will carry you all over the world and allow you to accomplish your every desire. It will enable you to catapult past any setback.

“Passion equals drive, drive equals determination, and enough determination equals success.” – Anette Sandberg

The miles logged eclipse the destination

Sure, there may be turbulent moments; the best trips are punctuated by them, but this is when we know how best to navigate. We STILL stay the course despite the pain, the doubt, the pressure, the terror and the exhaustion as we hurtle ahead, addiction the tailwind of our dreams. We know, as addicts do, the next fix will take us closer to what we have long envisioned grasping with straining fingers. Please keep your seatbelts fastened for the “bumpy air” but know every leg of the trip will be worth the destination.

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The 5 Step Framework Every Business Owner Should Be Following

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Every new business owner wants to gain business, yet most do not have the right perception on how to gain business the right way. Oftentimes, our ego prevents us from fostering the proper relationships that will allow us to build a strong foundation that we can grow on. You need to drop your ego and provide value first.

In this article I will share a 5-step framework that you can replicate in your own life and business in order to gain your first clients and then grow with those clients as you scale to a 6 or 7-figure business.

The biggest pitfall with new business owners is that they over-price themselves because they are thinking short-term instead of realizing that the delayed gratification and long-term perspective is what they need to grow the business that they envision.

For example, David Zhao, serial entrepreneur and rising millennial leader, is a great example of someone who started from nothing and has built a networth of over $10 million dollars at the age of 23 by dropping his ego and providing value first, for less.

Here’s the secret that no one is telling you:Work for free. Execute. Get case studies. Leverage case studies for new business referrals. Then charge full price. Most people do not tell you that it’s okay to work for free early on because they do not understand the long-term perspective of business.

You are not going to work for free forever

When you are just starting out you NEED to get wins under your belt and there is no better way to do this than by providing value to your ideal customer for less than your normal price. Think long term and realize how much more money you can bring in once you’ve successfully helped your first clients.

For example, when David Zhao started his business between the ages of 15-17, he helped his teachers and local clinics with their websites. In fact, his first client was his Orthodontist whom he only charged $200 dollars for a website that could have easily been worth 5x that amount.

David continued to create websites for small to medium-sized businesses and leveraged his Chinese roots to connect with Chinese business owners who were not great at speaking English because he realized he could provide a lot of value to these people.

You need to identify who you can provide the most value to. Once you identify them you can approach them with an offer that makes sense.

You’ll see immediate growth and traction in your business by implementing this 5-step framework:

1. Give first

Find someone in your niche and in your hot/warm market because the cold market is too distant with no foundation. Focus on Win-Win situations. In this case, doing work for cheaper allows you to build your credibility and get some wins under your belt.

2. Build relationships

Do not be greedy early on because that distracts you from the mission of completing the work so that you can gain a new client. David used this principle to raise his first investment fund of $5 million dollars.

For example, for the first couple of investors in his fund he did not charge any management fees. Other people may have charged a management fee + 20% – 30%, but instead David charged less in order to provide more value and get himself the opportunity.

Because his bigger goal is to raise a $100 million fund, this initial $5 million fund is just a stepping stone. What are the stepping stones you need to take to get where you want to go? Do not prevent yourself from getting the opportunity by overcharging. Think about what you are willing to give.

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Execute on your product or service

Executing and providing great work is the most important part of the equation. If you don’t execute then there is no way you can build relationships and scale. Trust is built once you complete the things you say you can do. Your reputation is built around your work. Be open-minded with no ego and always ask for feedback.

Remember, you are leveraging these early clients to close higher ticket clients later on. Therefore, it’s in your benefit to ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure they have the best experience that you can leverage for new business later on. Always underpromise and overdeliver. Become so useful that you will get paid your full value later.

4. Gain referrals and case studies

After you’ve executed, it’s time to turn the experience into a case study and ask for a referral. Simply asking goes a long way. David was able to use this strategy to become one of the first members in Yelp’s marketing partnership program. Initially, David offered his time for free to build Yelp’s partnership program. He would go in to help the team for 20-30 hours a week, for free.

During this time he met the COO and Regional Account Executive and built a relationship with them. Obviously, these people are usually pretty difficult to get in contact with, yet because David provided value first, he was able to get passed any gatekeepers and build a direct relationship with them. His 7-figure digital marketing agency, NXT Factor, became the first NY agency partner of Yelp. Now he has spent $1 million+ in ad spend for his clients by wholesaling Yelp marketing.

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”  – Jim Rohn

5. Use case studies to gain new credibility and leverage for new business

After you see success, you need to have a plan on how to use the case study to attract new business. Most business owners think that referrals just come. This is not true.

As Dan Kennedy and Shaun Buck state in their book “No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention”, you need to have this system set in place. David has been able to leverage his past successes with his early clients to work with brands like Google, Apple, PayPal, Amex, Visa, Blade, and JetSmarter.

Using this framework will bring you new business and allow you to scale to the next level. Stop making things harder for yourself by seeing things short-term and instead change to a long-term perspective in your business. Give more than you take and focus on building relationships. Execute on your work and use the case studies to attract new business and referrals. You can do it.

How can this 5 step framework help your business in becoming more successful? Let us know in the comments below!

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4 Things All Healthy Entrepreneurial Businesses Have in Common

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All healthy businesses are profitable, but all profitable businesses are not healthy. Health is the #1 thing to strive for when running and operating a business, especially when you’re building it from scratch as a “solopreneur.”

The particular reason for it being this way is because as soon as you are, you will have a better cash flow, more satisfied clients and customers, better relationships with co-workers, a more performance-based culture and most importantly, you are happier.

The business landscape and the fast-paced environments we work in gives you and your business only one guarantee- continuous change. Therefore, it is vital that you measure the performance of your business on a regular basis, knowing your KPI, and continually readapting to the new set of rules produced by technology and other variables. To not only survive, but thrive in your business, it is first and foremost essential for it to be healthy.

Here are the 4 things that all healthy business have in common:

1. A hot product/service

Is there a demand or a need for what you have to sell? By the way, this is a question you should have asked yourself before you even started your venture! Gary Halbert talks about going into a market that has demonstrated to be starving (or at least hungry) for your product or service. That said, it is essential to understand that a healthy business, no matter the economic situation, will still make sales.

People will spend money on your product or service if there is a substantial need for it. As long as you solve peoples’ or businesses’ problems and reduce their pain points, you have created a solid foundation of a healthy business through your core offer.

“I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.” – Steve Jobs

2. Having a pipeline in place

What does it mean having a pipeline in place? It’s asking the question: Can you consistently bring in new business, whenever you need and want it? Do you have a reliable system in place that can be automated to generate new clients and customers for your product/service that can be turned on and off with a push of a button?

Healthy things typically attract attention, however, before you can tell someone how good your product or service is, you need your prospects’ attention.

There are several ways to do that; Conner Burt outlines a few good tricks. For a business to be flourishing, you are not allowed under any circumstances to base your decisions upon fear, scarcity, or emotional desperation like many entrepreneurs do. Instead, what you’d rather want is to make your decisions out of abundance and a position of power.

A growing business that scales at large has a pipeline and unless you want to get stuck, start putting a system in place. Using gained forward momentum is the single most powerful strategy for growth.

A common misconception amongst entrepreneurs is not to grow too fast, but there is no such thing if you’re well prepared and have a system in place.

3. Cash reserves

Every healthy business has cash reserves. Looking at all the successful companies that are unicorns in their respected market like Southwest, Uber, and Tesla. They all have cash (admittedly- a ton of it).

However, the point being, it just makes sense to be able to rely on liquid assets when the market crashes, shifts or a recession period comes along. Building up your war chest for the bad times will be a reason for not going bankrupt.

In fact, Southwest was the only airline during 9/11 who didn’t suffer a significant loss money wise and didn’t lay off employees. Why? Because they had 3.6 Billion Dollars in cash sitting around.

Cash reserves are directly correlated to your pipeline since it won’t make any difference to have money on hand if you don’t have the required skill set to grow your previously mentioned pipeline.

“All days are not same. Save for a rainy day. When you don’t work, savings will work for you.” M.K. Soni

4. A vision for other people

Business is about other people, never about yourself. The ability to grow relies on your vision you deploy for other people. What do you provide for other people? It has to be more than money, right? Every healthy business has resistance and challenges. Being healthy doesn’t mean you never struggle with anything.

Being healthy means that you are equipped to deal with the struggle and grow through it, and this requires a vision for other people that is way bigger than yourself.

Having a vision that goes beyond yourself and being authentic, doing what’s right for the prospect or client over doing what is best for you and your business will ultimately determine your business’s health.

Building a healthy business as an entrepreneur is tough when being unprepared. Knowing what will keep you on track, primarily through growth and scaling periods helps you build up sustainably, without the fear of a free fall to rock bottom.

Share with us a little about your business and if there’s anything we can do to help you grow. Comment below!

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3 Ways to Set a Productive Schedule as an Entrepreneur

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Working as an entrepreneur means being your own boss. You get to make your business plan, hire the right team for your vision, and set your own hours. It also means that you are fully responsible for your successes and failures. While the benefits are incredibly tempting, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Your success relies hugely on your ability to stay accountable to yourself and your customers.

How do you succeed as an entrepreneur? By setting a strict schedule and respecting it, day in and day out. You need to show up for yourself consistently, otherwise, you’re not going to be able to handle the daily pressures of running your own business.

Here are 3 ways to set a schedule that will inspire and re-energize you:

1. Set aside a space for work

This might not be an initial high priority, but if you’re working from home, you absolutely need a separate office space. It might be tempting to just set up shop at your kitchen table or couch to save some time. The Wall Street Journal reports that 80% of young professionals work from their beds most of the time. This, however, will result in compromised productivity.  

When you do this, your bedroom stops being a place of rest and becomes a place of work. This will ruin both the quality of your work and the quality of your sleep, which is crucial for wellbeing. Dedicate a space that’s solely for work, even if it’s just a simple desk. Entrepreneurs suffer from high levels of stress, and organization is key to getting your small business off the ground.

If your living space is just too small, get out of the house! Sure, you could hit up the traditional coffee shop or even your local library, but maybe you’re looking for something with some more structure. Consider a coworking space. A recent study shows that people in coworking spaces reported high levels of work satisfaction, much higher than those working in a traditional office space.

Utilizing a coworking space will let you interact with others, get out of your house, and dedicate a space to work. Even better, you’ll be able to leave your work at the “office” and enjoy your home.

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.” – Tory Burch

2. Try out a few different schedules

You’ve got a lot of freedom as an entrepreneur, but you need to leverage it to your best advantage. The good news is that you can use your peak hours of productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an early riser or a night owl, whenever you’re feeling the most inspired is when you can crank out your ideas and content.

You can’t forget entirely about normal business hours; you’ll need to reach contacts and schedule meetings during the 9 to 5 grind. Arrange your day around those non-negotiable meetings, and use the time you have left over to get your work done. Fortunately, you can use off hours to get errands done, since most everyone else will be at the office. This freedom helps you streamline the rest of your life and keeps your work life at peak productivity.

3. Set time for breaks

Entrepreneurs are fiercely independent by nature. You have your vision, your business, and your ever growing to-do list. It can feel impossible to put work down, but constantly focusing will hurt you more in the long run. If you want to be on your grind, you absolutely need to take breaks. This is not optional. If you aren’t pacing yourself, you’re going to burnout, hard.

This is as simple as getting up every half hour to stretch. Since you’re on your own timeline, you can schedule in time to do this and more. Get your eyes off the screen. A great way to take a break is to hit the gym since it will banish stress, boost creativity, and help you reach mental and physical goals.

“As work is important for your survival, so is rest for a peaceful mind.” – Alan Cohen

By making sure you have time set aside for breaks, you are investing in your current and future wellbeing, and as an extension of that, your business. You’ll be better rested and more calm, which will lead to improved confidence. Your peers and customers will notice if you’re overworking yourself, and will be concerned or disinterested rather than impressed.

Living by a strict schedule will ensure that you work smarter, not harder. You need to find a rhythm for your workflow, a separate place to get your work done, and take time for yourself. If you do this, your work life balance and quality of life will vastly improve, allowing you to reach peak productivity.

Which one of these 3 ways of setting a schedule do you like best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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Life

Build Up Your Social Media Presence Using These Three Personal Powers

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Instead of being on defense when it comes to social media, show the world you mean business with respect, compassion and dignity. Ask anyone of your friends or online connections if they’ve found themselves going down a rabbit hole online and a bunch of them probably will say, “Yep, it happened just the other day.” (more…)

I am a writer, author, and storyteller who helps businesses learn to communicate better with their words for a bigger impact. With more than 30-plus years in the communications industry, I’ve coached writers and reporters on improving their content and stories under deadline conditions. I’ve used my copywriting and content writing skills to help entrepreneurs improve their email sequences, social media posts, and website content. I’ve worked for major corporations like The Hearst Corp., GateHouse Media, Digital First Media, and Southern Newspapers. Awards for my work include being part of a first-place Texas Associated Press Managing Editors team effort for news coverage of major flooding in Laredo, Texas, and a 2009 Print Media Award from Workforce Solutions of South Texas for my business reporting work.

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Entrepreneurs

Are Addicts and Entrepreneurs Synonymous? The Answer Might Surprise You

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Have you ever thought about what the term addict means in relation to entrepreneurship? When we examine that word, many of us think about a person addicted to a substance, unable to function. But addiction can have different meanings—it seems—in a society that speaks out of both sides of its mouth. Yes, it may denote a functional drug addict, for example. However, it can also describe a person who is vigorously driven to succeed against all odds and at any cost.

Are addicts and entrepreneurs synonymous?

In the case of choosing entrepreneurship, is being an addict necessary? Can you succeed without the manic mindset that yanks your hand and pulls you down the road of progress? Maybe you’ll have a different opinion, but I don’t think so! Ask yourself: What would your life be like without the fire for wanting more…no matter what “more” happens to be? I know my business would not be where it is as a marketer or the founder of a non-profit, without insatiable passion.

I HAD to be addicted to surrender to the mad urges to stay up late/early. To create websites and emails and articles and banners and a podcast and to network and collaborate and write millions of words. I’ve edited roughly 50 books by myself in the past couple of years as well as published most of them.

I’ve asked, bartered, been coached, have coached, purchased technology, applications, storage, high-speed everything, authored a book, hosted columns and learned to fly as I am whisked through the airport in a wheelchair. (A fact that shouldn’t be laudatory, but it is!) The more milestones I pass, the longer the distance I want to run.

“There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that once unleashed can make any vision, dream or desire a reality.” – Tony Robbins

Where would you be without your drive?

When you let your mind roam down the passageways of memory and into the pockets of time where you have been the most productive, obsessed, on the cusp of achievement, could you have done it with a meh attitude?

What is it inside us that is more powerful than hunger and defies explanation for even the most aggressive entrepreneur? Are we born this way or are we preened and primed by our environment? By lack? By affluence? By self-challenge or the need to shed self-doubt? And do we even need to understand what drives us? Or are we called simply to answer the restless ache to make something new, to leave a legacy that others can follow and improve upon?

Where were you when the epiphany of your life’s calling hit? I was paying bills. For so long, I had been operating from a necessity mindset. Planning what was needed to pay for our monthly debts. Separating myself from six-figure copywriters because I hadn’t yet identified my “why not.” And then like a streak into my brain, within mere minutes, I understood.

My realization wasn’t “what do I need to do to succeed?” It was and is “what can I do?” “How much can I do?” It was comprehending, at last, that I was in charge of my limited or limitless aim. I could build an empire. I could scale a company.

My past, sickness, and perceptions of my shortcomings couldn’t compete with the sparkling illumination that I was in charge of me and everything I ever wanted. Of everything I had ever dreamed of when I saw my father fail at serial entrepreneurship. I could beat all the bad memories and all the toxic mojo holding my dreams hostage. I did and I am.

Where do you fall prey to raw spontaneity?

I hate flying. Sometimes, I don’t understand this fear that charges at me when the wheels fold up. But I do it anyway. Every time I’m in the air, I tell myself this is the last time I will travel by plane and when I land, all is right with the world. But then justification and compulsion get me to the next trip. And the next. And the one after that. I can’t wait to hit the air as I simultaneously loathe the engines roaring and rattling my psyche.

This is the same fierce streak that led me to a take-no-prisoners attitude when I lost my job due to a rare neurological disease and had to start over…again. Which was the best thing that ever happened to me. If you have the ability to focus and tear up your goals like the tarmac under a jet, it will carry you all over the world and allow you to accomplish your every desire. It will enable you to catapult past any setback.

“Passion equals drive, drive equals determination, and enough determination equals success.” – Anette Sandberg

The miles logged eclipse the destination

Sure, there may be turbulent moments; the best trips are punctuated by them, but this is when we know how best to navigate. We STILL stay the course despite the pain, the doubt, the pressure, the terror and the exhaustion as we hurtle ahead, addiction the tailwind of our dreams. We know, as addicts do, the next fix will take us closer to what we have long envisioned grasping with straining fingers. Please keep your seatbelts fastened for the “bumpy air” but know every leg of the trip will be worth the destination.

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Entrepreneurs

The 5 Step Framework Every Business Owner Should Be Following

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business owners
Image Credit: Unsplash

Every new business owner wants to gain business, yet most do not have the right perception on how to gain business the right way. Oftentimes, our ego prevents us from fostering the proper relationships that will allow us to build a strong foundation that we can grow on. You need to drop your ego and provide value first.

In this article I will share a 5-step framework that you can replicate in your own life and business in order to gain your first clients and then grow with those clients as you scale to a 6 or 7-figure business.

The biggest pitfall with new business owners is that they over-price themselves because they are thinking short-term instead of realizing that the delayed gratification and long-term perspective is what they need to grow the business that they envision.

For example, David Zhao, serial entrepreneur and rising millennial leader, is a great example of someone who started from nothing and has built a networth of over $10 million dollars at the age of 23 by dropping his ego and providing value first, for less.

Here’s the secret that no one is telling you:Work for free. Execute. Get case studies. Leverage case studies for new business referrals. Then charge full price. Most people do not tell you that it’s okay to work for free early on because they do not understand the long-term perspective of business.

You are not going to work for free forever

When you are just starting out you NEED to get wins under your belt and there is no better way to do this than by providing value to your ideal customer for less than your normal price. Think long term and realize how much more money you can bring in once you’ve successfully helped your first clients.

For example, when David Zhao started his business between the ages of 15-17, he helped his teachers and local clinics with their websites. In fact, his first client was his Orthodontist whom he only charged $200 dollars for a website that could have easily been worth 5x that amount.

David continued to create websites for small to medium-sized businesses and leveraged his Chinese roots to connect with Chinese business owners who were not great at speaking English because he realized he could provide a lot of value to these people.

You need to identify who you can provide the most value to. Once you identify them you can approach them with an offer that makes sense.

You’ll see immediate growth and traction in your business by implementing this 5-step framework:

1. Give first

Find someone in your niche and in your hot/warm market because the cold market is too distant with no foundation. Focus on Win-Win situations. In this case, doing work for cheaper allows you to build your credibility and get some wins under your belt.

2. Build relationships

Do not be greedy early on because that distracts you from the mission of completing the work so that you can gain a new client. David used this principle to raise his first investment fund of $5 million dollars.

For example, for the first couple of investors in his fund he did not charge any management fees. Other people may have charged a management fee + 20% – 30%, but instead David charged less in order to provide more value and get himself the opportunity.

Because his bigger goal is to raise a $100 million fund, this initial $5 million fund is just a stepping stone. What are the stepping stones you need to take to get where you want to go? Do not prevent yourself from getting the opportunity by overcharging. Think about what you are willing to give.

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Execute on your product or service

Executing and providing great work is the most important part of the equation. If you don’t execute then there is no way you can build relationships and scale. Trust is built once you complete the things you say you can do. Your reputation is built around your work. Be open-minded with no ego and always ask for feedback.

Remember, you are leveraging these early clients to close higher ticket clients later on. Therefore, it’s in your benefit to ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure they have the best experience that you can leverage for new business later on. Always underpromise and overdeliver. Become so useful that you will get paid your full value later.

4. Gain referrals and case studies

After you’ve executed, it’s time to turn the experience into a case study and ask for a referral. Simply asking goes a long way. David was able to use this strategy to become one of the first members in Yelp’s marketing partnership program. Initially, David offered his time for free to build Yelp’s partnership program. He would go in to help the team for 20-30 hours a week, for free.

During this time he met the COO and Regional Account Executive and built a relationship with them. Obviously, these people are usually pretty difficult to get in contact with, yet because David provided value first, he was able to get passed any gatekeepers and build a direct relationship with them. His 7-figure digital marketing agency, NXT Factor, became the first NY agency partner of Yelp. Now he has spent $1 million+ in ad spend for his clients by wholesaling Yelp marketing.

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.”  – Jim Rohn

5. Use case studies to gain new credibility and leverage for new business

After you see success, you need to have a plan on how to use the case study to attract new business. Most business owners think that referrals just come. This is not true.

As Dan Kennedy and Shaun Buck state in their book “No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention”, you need to have this system set in place. David has been able to leverage his past successes with his early clients to work with brands like Google, Apple, PayPal, Amex, Visa, Blade, and JetSmarter.

Using this framework will bring you new business and allow you to scale to the next level. Stop making things harder for yourself by seeing things short-term and instead change to a long-term perspective in your business. Give more than you take and focus on building relationships. Execute on your work and use the case studies to attract new business and referrals. You can do it.

How can this 5 step framework help your business in becoming more successful? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entrepreneurs

4 Things All Healthy Entrepreneurial Businesses Have in Common

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All healthy businesses are profitable, but all profitable businesses are not healthy. Health is the #1 thing to strive for when running and operating a business, especially when you’re building it from scratch as a “solopreneur.”

The particular reason for it being this way is because as soon as you are, you will have a better cash flow, more satisfied clients and customers, better relationships with co-workers, a more performance-based culture and most importantly, you are happier.

The business landscape and the fast-paced environments we work in gives you and your business only one guarantee- continuous change. Therefore, it is vital that you measure the performance of your business on a regular basis, knowing your KPI, and continually readapting to the new set of rules produced by technology and other variables. To not only survive, but thrive in your business, it is first and foremost essential for it to be healthy.

Here are the 4 things that all healthy business have in common:

1. A hot product/service

Is there a demand or a need for what you have to sell? By the way, this is a question you should have asked yourself before you even started your venture! Gary Halbert talks about going into a market that has demonstrated to be starving (or at least hungry) for your product or service. That said, it is essential to understand that a healthy business, no matter the economic situation, will still make sales.

People will spend money on your product or service if there is a substantial need for it. As long as you solve peoples’ or businesses’ problems and reduce their pain points, you have created a solid foundation of a healthy business through your core offer.

“I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.” – Steve Jobs

2. Having a pipeline in place

What does it mean having a pipeline in place? It’s asking the question: Can you consistently bring in new business, whenever you need and want it? Do you have a reliable system in place that can be automated to generate new clients and customers for your product/service that can be turned on and off with a push of a button?

Healthy things typically attract attention, however, before you can tell someone how good your product or service is, you need your prospects’ attention.

There are several ways to do that; Conner Burt outlines a few good tricks. For a business to be flourishing, you are not allowed under any circumstances to base your decisions upon fear, scarcity, or emotional desperation like many entrepreneurs do. Instead, what you’d rather want is to make your decisions out of abundance and a position of power.

A growing business that scales at large has a pipeline and unless you want to get stuck, start putting a system in place. Using gained forward momentum is the single most powerful strategy for growth.

A common misconception amongst entrepreneurs is not to grow too fast, but there is no such thing if you’re well prepared and have a system in place.

3. Cash reserves

Every healthy business has cash reserves. Looking at all the successful companies that are unicorns in their respected market like Southwest, Uber, and Tesla. They all have cash (admittedly- a ton of it).

However, the point being, it just makes sense to be able to rely on liquid assets when the market crashes, shifts or a recession period comes along. Building up your war chest for the bad times will be a reason for not going bankrupt.

In fact, Southwest was the only airline during 9/11 who didn’t suffer a significant loss money wise and didn’t lay off employees. Why? Because they had 3.6 Billion Dollars in cash sitting around.

Cash reserves are directly correlated to your pipeline since it won’t make any difference to have money on hand if you don’t have the required skill set to grow your previously mentioned pipeline.

“All days are not same. Save for a rainy day. When you don’t work, savings will work for you.” M.K. Soni

4. A vision for other people

Business is about other people, never about yourself. The ability to grow relies on your vision you deploy for other people. What do you provide for other people? It has to be more than money, right? Every healthy business has resistance and challenges. Being healthy doesn’t mean you never struggle with anything.

Being healthy means that you are equipped to deal with the struggle and grow through it, and this requires a vision for other people that is way bigger than yourself.

Having a vision that goes beyond yourself and being authentic, doing what’s right for the prospect or client over doing what is best for you and your business will ultimately determine your business’s health.

Building a healthy business as an entrepreneur is tough when being unprepared. Knowing what will keep you on track, primarily through growth and scaling periods helps you build up sustainably, without the fear of a free fall to rock bottom.

Share with us a little about your business and if there’s anything we can do to help you grow. Comment below!

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3 Ways to Set a Productive Schedule as an Entrepreneur

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Working as an entrepreneur means being your own boss. You get to make your business plan, hire the right team for your vision, and set your own hours. It also means that you are fully responsible for your successes and failures. While the benefits are incredibly tempting, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Your success relies hugely on your ability to stay accountable to yourself and your customers.

How do you succeed as an entrepreneur? By setting a strict schedule and respecting it, day in and day out. You need to show up for yourself consistently, otherwise, you’re not going to be able to handle the daily pressures of running your own business.

Here are 3 ways to set a schedule that will inspire and re-energize you:

1. Set aside a space for work

This might not be an initial high priority, but if you’re working from home, you absolutely need a separate office space. It might be tempting to just set up shop at your kitchen table or couch to save some time. The Wall Street Journal reports that 80% of young professionals work from their beds most of the time. This, however, will result in compromised productivity.  

When you do this, your bedroom stops being a place of rest and becomes a place of work. This will ruin both the quality of your work and the quality of your sleep, which is crucial for wellbeing. Dedicate a space that’s solely for work, even if it’s just a simple desk. Entrepreneurs suffer from high levels of stress, and organization is key to getting your small business off the ground.

If your living space is just too small, get out of the house! Sure, you could hit up the traditional coffee shop or even your local library, but maybe you’re looking for something with some more structure. Consider a coworking space. A recent study shows that people in coworking spaces reported high levels of work satisfaction, much higher than those working in a traditional office space.

Utilizing a coworking space will let you interact with others, get out of your house, and dedicate a space to work. Even better, you’ll be able to leave your work at the “office” and enjoy your home.

“Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.” – Tory Burch

2. Try out a few different schedules

You’ve got a lot of freedom as an entrepreneur, but you need to leverage it to your best advantage. The good news is that you can use your peak hours of productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an early riser or a night owl, whenever you’re feeling the most inspired is when you can crank out your ideas and content.

You can’t forget entirely about normal business hours; you’ll need to reach contacts and schedule meetings during the 9 to 5 grind. Arrange your day around those non-negotiable meetings, and use the time you have left over to get your work done. Fortunately, you can use off hours to get errands done, since most everyone else will be at the office. This freedom helps you streamline the rest of your life and keeps your work life at peak productivity.

3. Set time for breaks

Entrepreneurs are fiercely independent by nature. You have your vision, your business, and your ever growing to-do list. It can feel impossible to put work down, but constantly focusing will hurt you more in the long run. If you want to be on your grind, you absolutely need to take breaks. This is not optional. If you aren’t pacing yourself, you’re going to burnout, hard.

This is as simple as getting up every half hour to stretch. Since you’re on your own timeline, you can schedule in time to do this and more. Get your eyes off the screen. A great way to take a break is to hit the gym since it will banish stress, boost creativity, and help you reach mental and physical goals.

“As work is important for your survival, so is rest for a peaceful mind.” – Alan Cohen

By making sure you have time set aside for breaks, you are investing in your current and future wellbeing, and as an extension of that, your business. You’ll be better rested and more calm, which will lead to improved confidence. Your peers and customers will notice if you’re overworking yourself, and will be concerned or disinterested rather than impressed.

Living by a strict schedule will ensure that you work smarter, not harder. You need to find a rhythm for your workflow, a separate place to get your work done, and take time for yourself. If you do this, your work life balance and quality of life will vastly improve, allowing you to reach peak productivity.

Which one of these 3 ways of setting a schedule do you like best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

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